Best Method for Making Drawers

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Forum topic by BerBer5985 posted 02-23-2012 04:41 PM 4458 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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445 posts in 1841 days

02-23-2012 04:41 PM

I see a lot of people post pictures of their chests of drawers and tool boxes and what not, but I’ve never made anything with a drawer. Are there any good methods as to how to the drawers slide in a out, with guides, without, etc? Are there any good books or videos that show hand tools methods for drawers? Thanks!

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

10 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile


7119 posts in 1998 days

#1 posted 02-23-2012 04:47 PM

One method to make drawers with guides is to:

1) Make sure the openings are square and plumb
2) Deduct 1 inch from width and height of opening and this determines the size of your drawer.

Some folks deduct an extra mm on the width for the guides as well. YMMV (your mileage may vary)

Have fun making drawers with guides! I like the full extension guides, they ride smooth, KV is a decent brand.

View jdmaher's profile


381 posts in 2000 days

#2 posted 02-23-2012 05:05 PM

I, too, would like to hear suggestions.

For example, an upcoming project will have two large drawers (openings about 20” by 5.75”). I’d prefer NOT to use metal drawer slides, but the drawers do seem large. Can I get by with hardwood guides in the case? Do I need to somehow support the drawer bottom?

In my case, the drawer fronts to sides will be half-blind dovetails and I’m assuming a back dadoed into the sides.

What else should I consider?

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View Loren's profile


8159 posts in 3069 days

#3 posted 02-23-2012 05:06 PM

Fine drawers can be piston-fitted to a case with web frames in
between each. The finer the job of defining the space into
which the drawer slides, the finer you can make the fit and
action of the drawer without using slides.

Drawers can be hung on wood runners is several ways, some of which
involve grooving the drawer side.

The case can be made 3” or more deep than needed and the drawer
sides extended to full depth shy 1/4”. This allows a sort of full extension
effect with a wood drawer since it can be pulled out enough to reveal
all the contents without threatening to fall out of the case.

I’ve learned a lot about methods from examining antique pieces. At
any opportunity to examine interesting old furniture I pull out a drawer
to see how it was done or look under a table.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51452 posts in 2901 days

#4 posted 02-23-2012 05:13 PM

I agree with Loren. If the drawer is going to hold a heavy load or be used a lot, the metal slides work the best. I tend to use just wood on wood slides if I do a colonial piece like a blanket chest (in my gallery) since it allows for a larger drawer and its more original

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View BerBer5985's profile


445 posts in 1841 days

#5 posted 02-23-2012 05:35 PM

Are there any good books or videos on the market, or even on the internet that show making a chest of drawers by hand or something like that? I’d love to learn the hand tool techniques if I can. There are a few projects my wife would like me to make involving drawers and I’d love to build a tool chest with some drawers in it for the shop.

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2390 days

#6 posted 02-23-2012 05:43 PM

The ‘Prince’ of drawer runners has to be the Blum type undermount (dynamic) soft close runner (it is for me anyway).

On my last project requiring drawers I used GRASS runners, (made in Italy) which had adjustment for height, level, inset and side to side.

Only downside is you lose a whopping 35mm from the bottom of the drawer.

View supercubber-bad's profile


17 posts in 1705 days

#7 posted 02-23-2012 05:45 PM

I think it depends what the drawer is used for. I’ve made some with box joints, some with half laps and some just by gluing end grand to edge grain and brad nailing them together (for light duty drawers).

View Loren's profile


8159 posts in 3069 days

#8 posted 02-23-2012 05:55 PM

There are lots of older books which cover hand-building methods.
Unfortunately, you may find there are gaps in all of them that
leave you confused, depending on your own personal ingenuity.

There’s no substitute for getting a large collection of FWW
magazines or similar and reading them all from cover to cover.
The older magazines tend not to emphasize the use of router
jigs and power tools as much.

Norm Vandal’s “Queen Anne Furniture” is an excellent book that
covers authentic methods of reproduction of pre-machine
furniture pieces. In terms of a single book that covers
the construction of a single case piece in exhaustive detail,
I don’t know of any.

View TexasJim's profile


86 posts in 2657 days

#9 posted 02-23-2012 06:52 PM

Berber, I’m sure you could find videos on you-tube but you’re taking a chance that the guys knows what he is talking about. Check the library or bookstore for some books on cabinet/furniture building. Once you get an understanding, build some shop cabinets first as a learning experience.

JD, the web system described will work. I have used a sliding dovetail runner on drawers much smaller than yours. If you use wood runners on the sides, webs or whatever put wax on them – it makes a world of difference. If your drawers are going to have heavy loads, you might want to reconsider metal slide.

In both case, if you’re going to use metal slides, determine the approximate size of your drawer and then order the slides before making the drawer. They come with specs for clearances that you need to know before getting too far along. DAMHIKT.

-- If the world was a logical place, men would be the ones who ride horses sidesaddle.

View waho6o9's profile


7119 posts in 1998 days

#10 posted 02-23-2012 11:47 PM

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